Red Pozole

Red PozoleSummer Soup Supper
When the weather starts to get warm, the last thing people think about for dinner is a bowl of soup. I mean who wants soup when it’s 90 degrees outside, right? And I agree for the most part. But, there is at least once exception to that rule. At least in my mind…

There are few dishes that are as quintessentially Mexican than a bowl of pozole. It’s a hearty, filling bowl of pork or chicken with hominy and the flavors of chili and lime. Pozole is everything you could want when you just have to have the flavors of Mexico. And, it is just as appropriate in winter when you need to something flavorful and filling to warm you up as it is in the warmer months outside on the patio for a relaxing dinner with a margarita. Just grab some from the fridge, give it a gentle warm up and enjoy a great meal al fresco with some fresh radishes from your garden—if you are lucky enough to have them.

Obviously, this is a make-ahead weeknight dinner as it takes more time to put together than we usually have on a Wednesday night. But, if you make this your Sunday project, all you need to do is prep the garnishes to add to your bowl for a fast and satisfying dinner. Any leftovers can be put in the freezer for another night.

Red Pozole Recipe
Adapted from the Mexican Food Journal
Yields 12 servings

This recipe yields an ample 12 servings—plenty to enjoy for dinner with leftovers for future meals. Pozole makes a rich and satisfying dish with your choice of meat in a mildly-spicy chile broth. Fresh garnishes complete the dish. Read more…

Melon Seed Horchata

Horchata de Melon RecipeThe Pecking Order
I knew when I planted my garden this year I was probably just starting the next campaign in the war for supremacy over my chicken. But, I was hoping it wouldn’t come to that. Alas, my hopes were dashed. Let me explain…

Anytime we plant in the garden—be it fruits, vegetables, or flowers—we have to figure out how best to keep our remaining chicken from eating everything. Turtle, the chicken named for the ruff of feathers around her neck, is the last remaining member of our flock. She has survived numerous racoon and neighborhood dog attacks. She methodically took out a few of her own personal rivals during her meteoric rise to the top of the pecking order…to the point that she is now the lone survivor. With people though, she is skittish but sweet and will squat down in front of you to get some petting attention. Turtle is actually fun to have around, until she tries to eat my tomatoes. Things get real when she goes after my tomatoes.

The last time we had a big garden, Turtle took out everything. Not just the veggies on the vine, but the vines themselves. So this year, we planted everything in an area she can’t get to. And, so far so good.

However, over the weekend I planted my melon patch. The melon patch is the only area that is in the chicken hazard zone and I had not yet figured out how I was going to chicken-proof it. Sure enough, not quite an hour after planting my cantaloupes and watermelons, there she is taking a dirt bath in the turned-over soil after having pecked at the leaves of the plants themselves. I was livid. Mostly at myself for believing I could actually grow a garden without her interference this year. Thankfully, we had some extra chicken wire hanging around and managed to make a temporary solution to keep her away.

The good news is that I think the plants will survive. I am looking forward to sweet melons this summer—especially for the recipe below. It’s the perfect way to use the seeds that would normally be thrown away. And, since it is Cinco de Mayo and the melons in the market are actually getting better, it is a great option for tonight’s fiesta. The recipe is from the book The Essential Cuisine of Mexico by Diana Kennedy. It’s a must have for your Mexican cooking library…

Melon Seed Horchata Recipe
Adapted from The Essential Cuisine of Mexico by Diana Kennedy
Yields one serving

This is a great way to use the seeds of a cantaloupe—a part you would normally be discarding. And, it makes a tasty and refreshing drink.

Read more…

Tomatillo Enchiladas

Tomatillo EnchiladasThe Whole Enchilada
On average, I roast chicken at least once a week—and I never roast fewer than two. The main reasons for that are about to turn 17 in in a couple of weeks. But, the real motivation is having leftover cooked chicken opens the door to many different dinner ideas. My favorite? Enchiladas!

I was shocked to note that I have never written about making enchiladas before, because I make them a lot. Enchiladas are a no-brainer weeknight meal usually made with whatever I have on hand. This means they are not the same every time. I almost always go without a recipe. Sometimes I roll ’em. Sometimes I stack ‘em. It all depends on how many tortillas I have. Sometimes the enchiladas are rojo and sometimes they are verde, but they are always exactly what the doctor ordered. I also like any leftovers the next morning with scrambled eggs. Kind of like a crazy version of Chilaquiles.

If I was forced to choose, I would say that I prefer the verde version. There’s just something about the green chili, cheese, chicken, and sour cream combo that is just right. There is no shortage of recipes available online for whatever version you decide to try. The can be complicated or super-easy depending on your schedule and enthusiasm level. Making your own sauce produces fantastic results. But, that doesn’t mean the jarred or canned stuff can’t be just as good. For me, I like it somewhere in the middle. A little bit of homemade combined with the easy-open.

Today, I’m going with my favorite recipe from Rick Bayless. I like to mix some shredded cheese together with the chicken for the filling. But, you can do it however you want to. Making the sauce yourself means eating a few minutes later and it’s worth it…

Tomatillo Enchiladas Recipe
Adapted from Rick Bayless
Yields 4 servings Read more…

Mushroom Poblano Tortas

Mushroom Poblano TortasMushroom Motivation
As someone who loves to cook, it doesn’t take too much to get me excited enough about something to give it a try for dinner. Right now I feel like I’ve reached the end of the culinary internet.

I make dinner almost every night—I would say 95% of the time. But, in the past, whenever I felt like I just couldn’t muster the strength, I knew we could hop in the car and go out to eat or to pick something up. In the past almost 5 months, that hasn’t really been an option. Sure, takeout has been available, but that can get pricey quickly. All of this adds up to me having done a lot of cooking. I mean A lot of cooking. And, for the first time that I can remember, I am not very excited about cooking anymore.

My sister is in the same boat and she cooks more than I do. Both of us have cooking fatigue and I am sure we are not the only ones out there feeling this way. The arrival of summer produce has helped. But, it still feels like an ordeal to come up with what to have for dinner—or any other meal. And the other mouths in the house are not always helpful when it comes to ideas.

Over the weekend I made a Mushroom and Poblano Torta recipe that stoked my cooking flame because it was something I never made before; and if you make enough of the filling, you have options for meals the next day. It’s always good to have options. The original recipe called for coriander in the beans, I tried it that way and I also tried it by swapping out the coriander for cumin. I prefer the cumin version. The coriander was just too strong for me…

If you decide to give this a go I would recommend doubling the mushroom poblano and onion mixture. It makes great quesadillas or tacos for lunch or would be super in an omelet or egg scramble for breakfast.

Mushroom Poblano Tortas
Yields 6 servings
Adapted from Milk Street Tuesday Nights by Christopher Kimball Read more…